This month a local organization called the Interra Project unveils the Puget Sound Community Card, a consumers’ card designed to empower consumers to put their money where their deepest values are.
The card will be used by local shoppers like a membership card, swiping it during purchases at participating local businesses. After a minimum purchase, merchants give a portion to a school or nonprofit of the cardholder’s choosing and rebate an equal amount as a cash reward to the cardholder. One does not need a bank account to use the card; any form of payment — cash, check, or credit — is acceptable.
Developed to increase the circulation of dollars locally, the card encourages consumers to support the cultural, economic, and environmental health of the community. It’s the basis for a program that its creators hope will generate over $8 million in funds to local nonprofits and more than 200 new area jobs in the next five years.
It’s part of the Interra Project’s objective to create a values-based economy with an incentive for consumers to shift their purchasing habits, say project spokespeople. Interra’s founders include Dee Hock, founder of Visa International, and Greg Steltenpohl, who founded Odwalla Juices.
All local schools are participating as potential beneficiaries. Other participating organizations include human rights and social justice groups such as the Seattle Human Services Coalition and the YWCA, conservation groups like the Alliance for Puget Sound Shorelines and the Cascade Land Conservancy, and religious groups focused on public issues such as the Interfaith Task Force on Homelessness and Earth Ministry.
Though based in Seattle, Interra launched its first card in Boston, where it set up the Boston Community Change Card in 2006. Interra executive director Jon Ramer says results in Seattle are expected to be much greater than the Boston “pilot project,” with a much wider alliance of beneficiaries and businesses.
“What we want to do is create a network of regional programs that are organized at the neighborhood level,” Ramer says.
Interra has identified over 100 cities as probable markets for the cards.
To learn more about the Interra Project and the Community Card, go to www.interraproject.org.